Letter to the Editor for March 10, 2010

Norman Arthur Fischer

Dear Editor,

As the Ohio House gets ready to vote on the fate of (Senate Bill 5), I would like to shed some light on two ignored issues surrounding this bill, based on my experience not only as professor of Philosophy and member of a faculty union at Kent State University for over thirty years before my recent retirement, but also on my writing and teaching on rights and democracy.

I start with a fact. According to the Akron Beacon Journal of March 3, 2011, two Republican senators, one on one committee and one on another, were removed from their respective committees because they opposed SB5. Each was then replaced by Republicans who then voted to allow the bill to be brought to the full Senate.

I want to look at this fact in the light of rights and democracy.  The right that this scandalous fact illustrates is the right of due process, a fundamental right of all American citizens under the Bill of Rights. I am not saying that the Bill of Rights by itself guarantees that the Republican Party cannot remove one of its members from two committees and replace them with others.  What I am saying is that the unfair stacking of a committee is in violation of the sense of fair procedures that the due process clauses of the Bill of Rights have taught Americans to respect.  Based on this respect, Americans have gradually over the decades and centuries come to create more and more institutions and practices that incorporate specifics of due and fair process. One of those practices is binding arbitration in union matters. Yes Gov. Kasich, binding arbitration.

Gov. Kasich had the audacity recently in a local speech to say that he had just heard of an alternative to binding arbitration, fact finding. Just heard of it? Be serious, Gov. Kasich. The whole bill, which you have been behind from the start, has at its core an attack on institutions like public unions and key practices such as binding arbitration that public unions have won in Ohio and that have at their heart expending the due and fair process concepts at the heart of the Bill of Rights.  Judges who uphold due process are not just fact finders. They practice binding arbitration. What that means is that they are fair and neutral in disputes between parties and make and enforce binding decisions. That is what employment arbitrators do under binding arbitration.


Their job is to look at decisions that are made in the workplace that smack of prejudice and unfairness. A good example at a university would be of an administrator who violated standard rules of procedure in order to stack a committee – just as the Republican Senate recently did. An arbitrator could, in a binding way, rule against such an unfair process.

The Republicans who voted for SB5 voted in an attempt to limit binding arbitration.  But six Republican senators agreed with two Republican senators who were unfairly removed from their committee posts. These Republicans agreed with the spirit of the Bill of Rights, which in its explicit defense of due and fair process is like a beacon in the hearts of all Americans.  These Republicans who voted against SB5 are not Democrats. They are following a long tradition among Republicans to defend not only the Bill of Rights but also the extension of the right of fair and due process into other areas of life.  But unlike some of their Republican colleagues, they understand that binding arbitration is one way to defend our liberties. Due and fair process is one of the fundamental rights to liberty in the Bill of Rights.

Judge Andrew Napolitano on Fox Business Network is one of our great teachers in educating Americans to the idea that the best defense of liberty is to have due and fair process in as many areas of life as possible. Although I often disagree with specifics of the Tea Party, their defense of liberty rights is something I applaud, and I hope that Tea Party Republicans understand that the six Republicans who voted against SB5 and the two Republicans whose due and fair process were violated when they removed from their posts because of their opposition to SB5 were on the side of liberty and the constitution.

The second point I want to make is about democracy. The founding fathers were students of ancient political philosophy and understood and agreed with the great Greek political philosopher, Aristotle, and the great Roman political philosopher, Cicero, that an elected Democratic Party could be as tyrannical as a “tyrant,” a Greek word which refers to one-man rule with contempt for laws and rules and for the party that is not in power. SB5 violates rules and traditions, which have been in place for a long time and that are respected by a vast number of Ohio citizens. The attempt to impose this due-process-violating law by unfairly removing two Republican senators from their committee posts simply because they oppose it is the kind of act that Aristotle, Cicero and the Founding Fathers would have regarded as tyrannical democracy.

Yours truly,


Norman Arthur Fischer

Kent resident